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Books & Poetry

Poem: Willow Springs

Books & Poetry

This week’s Poet’s Corner contribution, from Stephanie Russell, takes readers to the heart of the Flinders Ranges.

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Willow Springs

Flinders Ranges, South Australia

There’s a place due north of here
a day by car at a hundred and ten
where the sky is blue as tempered steel
and the sun kills you with a glance
there’s a thousand lambs there brought in by truck
a truck that wheezed up the hill in front of us when we came
each lamb bleating for ma
scared as hell at what the day would bring when it ended
and it ended with a grunt of dying motor
a clang of gate and ramp and a prod in the rump
as they tumbled out one by one to a new home in the sky

it’s green today after a bit o’ rain
among the bones of red gum ghosts on the creek bed
I kicked the mummified wreck of a bat
sharp-toothed grin
claws that would tear clasped in prayerful concentration
as we trekked through the yellow molten glare
we chewed cheese butties
mindful of the moment
sat in stick-littered shade in a desiccated gorge
eked out the water we brought in miserly contempt
for a billion years of dust and broken stone
we listened to the butcher bird and raven
reciting poetry they learned from mum
with a tune they took from the wind
when it comes on hard from the west
we limped home on blistered feet
slaked our ragged thirst when we got there
in the hottest part of day
when cicadas told us we were fools to play in the sun

as the cloth curtain of day closed we gathered on a hilltop
lifted a toast to the world’s burning rim
where stone serried ranks shouldered the cloudless void
as stars came out we counted them one by one
placed them in a row in our mind to be dusted off at moments
when darkness whispered to us a soft song of solitude.

Stephanie Russell lives in the Adelaide Hills, and is a qualified integrative counsellor and psychotherapist specialising in transgender and gender diversity. Her tertiary qualifications include a doctorate in astronomy from the Australian National University, Masters in Counselling and Psychotherapy from Adelaide University, and an Advanced Diploma in Professional Writing from Adelaide TAFE. Her various careers have involved working in physics, astronomy and aerospace engineering. Her research directions ranged from chemical synthesis in stars and galaxies, to resilience to climate change in Indigenous communities. Her writing interests have included fictional and non-fictional short stories, and most recently poetry, and the “emotional heart of what it means to be human”. She is currently compiling a collection of her poems for publication.

Readers’ original and unpublished poems of up to 40 lines can be emailed, with postal address, to Submissions should be in the body of the email, not as attachments. A poetry book will be awarded to each accepted contributor.

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